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Reviewed by Teresa Syms for Readers' Favorite
The Rebel Scribes is a fascinating historical novel depicting two Anglo-Saxon monks who are brothers in the time of King Aethelred of England. John Broughton tells the tale of Folcwin and his brother Aelfwynn, orphaned when Viking raiders attack their village and kill their parents. When Aelfwynn is accused of killing a friend and fellow monk, he decides to renounce his vows and leave the monastery and his brother, Folcwin, a most exceptional and gifted scribe. Folcwin’s talent as a scribe increases after creating a psalter for a nobleman’s daughter; she is about to enter a convent but has captured the heart of Folcwin. After hearing of Aelfwynn’s prowess as a battle-hardened warrior, King Aethelred offers him command of the royal fleet. After years of enduring Viking raids, Folcwin decides to earn the heart of his love and trains as a warrior, learning everything Aelfwynn has learned in battle. In time Folcwin rises high in the king’s esteem and earns the feared name “The Warrior Monk.” His love for his family and country is tested many times as he attempts to maintain faith in his king. Will the Viking raiders seize control over the weak King Aethelred? What will happen to the brothers as they travel down completely divergent paths in life?
John Broughton’s The Rebel Scribes is an exceptional book. Broughton’s character development is second to none, as the reader will develop a clear image of the main protagonist, Folcwin, his brother, Aelfwynn, the Lady Imelda, Thorkell the Tall, and King Aethelred. As each character is introduced and their story shared, a clear vision develops. The main plot of the story, along with other sub-plots, is brought to life through excellent story-telling. The reader will not be disappointed in the historical depiction of the Viking raids that plagued England in 990-1013 AD. As well, the reader will gain a solid understanding of the hardships of life during this time in history while feeling the betrayal Folcwin faces during his time as The Warrior Monk. His love for his lady, his brother, and his country is more precious to him than his gift as a scribe. Will King Aethelred finally take action to rid England of the Viking raiders, or will the Viking menace seize control, bringing England into destruction and death or enslavement to its people? I thoroughly enjoyed and was captivated by The Rebel Scribes by John Broughton.